Despite a steep decline in air travel, recent layoffs and budget cuts, the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) Board voted today to continue to fund the Community Summer Jobs Program. Funding for the program was originally cut when Massport implemented a fiscal recovery plan in response to a dramatic reduction in airline travel and revenue. The Board approved $370,000 to support programs in nine communities and provide summer jobs for 200-250 young people.
"Summer jobs are vitally important for the development of our youth and I am pleased by the positive step that has been taken towards funding these jobs," said East Boston State Representative Anthony Petruccelli.
The Community Summer Jobs Program was developed in 1991 to assist civic and social service agencies in neighboring communities during the recession. Since then, Massport has supported more than 35 agencies and 50 individual summer programs per year. The funding has allowed agencies to offer a wide range of programs to a large number of recipients while keeping their expenses relatively low. The program has also helped thousands of local students gain valuable job skills while assisting their community at the same time.
"East Boston Social Centers is delighted that Massport will continue their long tradition of funding staff for summer programming, despite their drop in revenue. Without Massport support we could not possibly provide the quality, low-ratio staff-to-child care that we are known for at East Boston Camps in Westford, and at Playschool and early learning sites in East Boston and Chelsea," said East Boston Social centers Executive Director John Kelly. "These programs are very important to provide continuity in child care over the summer."
"The funding we receive from Massport provides supervised and educational employment opportunities for the youth of South Boston. The summer jobs program, through Massport, is a key component in prevention and education," said Kathy Lafferty, Program Director of the South Boston Summer Collaborative. "We are grateful to Massport for their past and continued support of the South Boston community and appreciate the resources available again this summer so we can continues to provide the families of South Boston with a safe, enriching summer."
The South Boston Summer Collaborative (SBSC), a collaboration between the South Boston Neighborhood House, South Boston Boys and Girls Club, Condon Community Center and Tynan Community Center, provides summer programming to hundreds of South Boston youth and over 100 South Boston teens and young adults.
"Each year Massport has been a key supporter of successful summer programming and employment opportunities for diverse young people from Chelsea and Revere," said Molly Baldwin, Executive Director of ROCA, Inc. "We are excited and grateful to learn that Massport's support will continue for the upcoming summer programming."
While Massport continues to grapple with budget issues, it has remained committed to finding ways to support local community groups. Just last month, Massport donated 10 boats and thousands of dollars worth of sailing equipment to the Piers Park Sailing Center (PPSC). With these assets, valued at approximately $200,000, the PPSC is well positioned to pursue fund-raising and loan opportunities to keep the program running. In addition, Massport will continue to provide a variety of services at no cost, including use of the dock, boat storage and utilities.
Massport will begin contacting agencies in the Community Summer Jobs Program immediately to assess needs and begin planning for summer programs.